Vaccination has become one of the most effective tools against the COVID-19 pandemic. Laboratories and medical scientists globally have developed dozens of different vaccines. Some experts believe that vaccination may halt the spread of the virus and reduce the death toll among people infected with the coronavirus. The vaccination is not evenly achieved among all social, ethnic, and racial groups. In the United States, the government faces issues with vaccinating Black Americans; discrepancies in statistics and distrust of the healthcare system remain the main problems of African Americans’ vaccination.
Currently, the share of African Americans who have received at least one dose of the vaccine is lower than their share out of the total population in the United States. Namely, CDC reports among the people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine, two-thirds are White (60%), 10% are Black (compared to 12% that is their share out of the total population), 17% are Hispanic, and 6% are Asian (Ndugga et al., 2021). Other groups account for less than one percent. Nevertheless, a more in-depth analysis of the statistical data provided by Nambi Ndugga et al. (2021) shows that Black people have received smaller vaccination shares than their share of cases, and the total population is more than half of states reporting data. It shows that Black Americans bear an unfairly larger burden of the pandemic and need to be better protected, serving as a more vulnerable social group. The most recent statistics show a more positive trend. The gaps in vaccination seem to narrow as more Black Americans get vaccinated than their share of the total population (15% vs. 12%). It is not possible to identify whether this trend will be long-lasting.
While some experts argue that Back Americans have worse access to vaccination compared to white Americans, many researchers have found that distrust of the medical industry is a leading cause of the vaccination gap. According to Armstrong Williams (2021, para. 2), the distrust “arises largely from experimentations done on slaves, typically without anesthesia, and the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, in which 399 Black men were infected and monitored without treatment from 1932 to 1972”. Nowadays, the anti-vaccination movement has developed dozens of conspiracy theories to prevent people from getting vaccinated. The mentioned events and horrific stories make Black Americans more likely to believe in those conspiracy theories and refuse to get a vaccine. Some African Americans do not use healthcare services at all because of discrimination cases and biases. The distrust is rooted in their culture and remains the main obstacle to a successful vaccination of this social group.
In conclusion, the vaccination process faces challenges because some social groups are not fairly treated. Though African Americans bear the largest burden of the pandemic, they account for a lesser percentage of vaccinated people. Fear of being subject to experiments, unfair and unethical medical practices, and discrimination make Black Americans less likely to be voluntarily vaccinated.
Ndugga, N., Hill, L., & Artiga, S. (2021, September 9). Latest Data on COVID-19 Vaccinations by Race/Ethnicity. KFF. Retrieved September 15, 2021, from https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/latest-data-on-covid-19-vaccinations-race-ethnicity/.
Williams, A. (2021, August 27). Why aren’t Black Americans getting vaccinated? The Hill. Retrieved September 15, 2021, from https://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/569483-why-arent-black-americans-getting-vaccinated.